vaudeville mews. tuesday. november 30, 1999. 9pm.
opening the door to the place i can't help but still call home i knew the tour was starting and the band was ending. the weight of it hit me for the first time and i had to stop in the entry way between the inner and outer doors to collect myself.
luckily as soon as i opened the door to the apartment i realized that the last few weeks of this band are going to be our best. on a wednesday when many were slaving away in offices, the guys, and the good people of spouse were already living the tour life: watching movies, listening to music and getting ready to travel.
the highlight of the morning activities was the installation of a brand new radio into neckface's main console. without his center panel neckface was looking a bit like jonny5 as gabe, like a robotological surgeon with electrical cromping tool in hand, attached each artery and nerve. within seconds the opening crowd sounds of 22 to tango broke the months of radio silence maintained by our neckface.
radio blaring, we left for des moines and stopped at a burger king on the way. as we entered the quiet western illinois grease distributer we came upon a huge promotion for the spider-man 2 film which included a larger-than-life spider-man decal on the entryway window.
we sat adjacent to spouse, munching our sponge-like meals with american abandon. dissatisfied with the tiny cups provided for ketchup, gabe transformed an entire beverage lid into a heaping reservoir of the stuff (upon returning to the table with it, he demanded, "do i look to you like the kind of guy who's fucking around?"). during the meal chris lamented that our boyish fantasies about stealing the spider-man static cling decal and affixing it to our beloved neckface were "all talk" and that of course we'd never have the stones to go through with it. we nodded glumly in unified agreement.
yet, after drinks were slurped and salty fingers brushed and licked, gabe and chris drifted towards the exit, both keeping a eye towards the staff on premises. in jest, gabe suggested that a diversion from the drive in window would distract attention from the front door. without, it is revealed in retrospect, jesting in the least, chris noted that at that moment, no one seemed to be paying attention as it was. gabe coaxed the corner of the decal up off the window, just to see if it could be done, then, true to form, he retreated to the parking lot. as he turned his back, however, he heard a curious, "sszzzzztp," sound.
the next thing anyone knew, chris was striding briskly toward neckface, attempting to move casually. in this attempt, gentle readers, mr. vlasses failed. because there's nothing casual about a larger-than-life shower curtain of a spider-man static cling decal waving in the breeze like some sort of marvel comics national flag.
chris's nervous grin, arms flailing, and anxious pace signaled it was time for us to go go go. i grabbed the keys and we were off. thus began our life on the run. as neckface ate up the last of the highway between illinois and iowa, leaving nothing but real in his wake, chris applied our newly acquired decal to the inside window. if anyone can keep the jerks away from our gear and neckface's new radio, surely spidey can. spiderman would also serve as a symbol of another new companion, speckneck, the eight-legged creature that lives inside the driver-side mirror. at one point, just over the mississippi river into iowa, traffic slowed and merged into a single lane. a couple of iowa state police cars sat on the side of the road, their flashers beckoning us forward ominously, like a tractor beam reeling in the real. i thought we were done for. but alas... they couldn't catch us. you can't keep down the ultra-real.
the inaugural show of our tour was floated at the vaudeville mews. at one point during our set, travis asked the admittedly sparse showing what the significance of the combination of those two unrelated words might be. no one responded. in any case, it was a pretty neat performance space, well-sized, colorful, and friendly-ly staffed. nicely staged. there was a shortage of cheap-eats bonded establishments in the vicinity, but that's nobody's fault.
we're all still debating how we handled the set. there may not have been anyone in attendance but our faithful spouse. and a combination of nervousness, excitement, and lack of nervousness led to an uneasy balance of tightness and nonchalance. we had some nebulous trouble relating to mostly-empty room. and in retrospect, we feel bad about that. gabe effed up pretty bad during a song or two, and chris might have, too (gabe would like to think that chris's screwing up screwed him up, but that's probably just wishful thinking). even so, we generally agree that the first half of the set was very well-played, with tiger force standing out as particularly awesome.
spouse got up on stage after us and pretty much took us to school. they're a classy, gracious, professional bunch. after class, we met up with my friend and des moines resident, the wonderful mari asper. mari and i worked together on a summer project that had just ended the week before. after receiving our cut of the door ($5!) we went and blew it on pizza. mari, was kind enough to stay up well past 1am hanging out with us even though she had to work at 7am. By the end of the night we were as loopy as caligraphy, but so happy to all be sleeping in beds. The morning found us meeting mari's mom, ruth, for the first time as well as her brother, john mark, and his psychotic bird, bobber. the hospitality shown by the asper's explains why the iowa state motto is "nicest people. ever. but no hills." cinnamon rolls, breakfast meats, and a fruit platter were only the start of a wonderful midwest morning. we are still so grateful for what will probably one of the best meals of the tour. only 8 minutes after our etd of 10am we set out for chicago, and our last hometown show.
the new song
truth in advertising